Ethno Fashion Gala a cultural fusion
Event takes place at South Edmonton Sejong Multicultural Centre on April 22.
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It was through a stroke of luck that Dan Muthui discovered his passion for fashion.
The Edmonton-based clothing designer, originally from Kenya, fuses western and African influences for his clothing line Kilele Creations (Kilele means ‘peak’ in Swahili). He’s holding a fashion show called the Ethno Fashion Gala on April 22 to showcase his designs and those of other Edmonton designers.
“It’s not really something I had planned to do,” Muthui said. “I kind of fell into it due to circumstances at the time. I approached a friend who was a tailor and he taught me a little bit about sewing … and I realized I’m very creative at making things.”
Muthui’s approach to fashion is conscientious. He calls it slow fashion — he compares “fast fashion,” which consists of globalized, mass production of garments, to fast food.
“They are sold at low prices because the cost to produce the garments is cheap. It’s relying on cheap labour in poor or developing countries,” Muthui said. “And what this does is encourage overconsumption. We go for more clothing, because it’s the latest trend.”
Fast fashion comes with a hidden price, both to the environment and the workers in the supply chain, he said.
“Slow fashion comes with a sense of responsibility because we begin to think about our production in a holistic manner, within an ecosystem, in terms of where our fabrics our coming from, how they are made and how they get to us,” Muthui said.
As a result, Muthui’s clothing isn’t cheap. But it’s a worthwhile trade to create products he stands behind.
Apart from staying true to his values, Muthui’s cultural background is an important part of the clothing he designs. He gets his ideas from art, the environment and the world around him.
“My designs are largely influenced by my cultural context. I use African fabrics, but I also fuse them with western fabrics … they have a blend of tradition and western themes,” he said. “I wanted to maintain that roots and culture aspect of my work.”
Muthui works directly with clients to create customized clothing and designs, patents and cuts the fabrics all by himself.
“Every single garment and design is approached differently,” he said.
While he’s taken part in fashion shows before, this is the first he has organized himself. The show will feature 12 Edmonton-based designers who showcase a range of designs with western and African influences.
It takes place at South Edmonton Sejong Multicultural Centre on April 22. Doors open at 6 and show time is at 7.
“It’s a celebration of diversity, beauty and culture through fashion, music and arts,” Muthui said. “We want to raise the profile of independent fashion designers based in Edmonton. And you start by encouraging consumers to buy from and support their own local talent.”